The Hunger Games franchise isn’t finished just yet. Over a decade after Suzanne Collins first published The Hunger Games, the first in a trilogy of massively popular dystopian sci-fi novels, the author is returning to the franchise for a prequel story. Scholastic announced today that Collins is writing an untitled Hunger Games prequel novel set in Panem 64 years before the events of the original trilogy. If you’ll recall, that trilogy’s story found hero Katniss surging in popularity on the televised deathmatch The Hunger Games, then subsequently leading an uprising against the fascist government.
Collins’ prequel novel is due to be published on May 19, 2020, but Joe Drake, Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture group revealed today that the studio is already developing a film adaptation in tandem with Collins:
“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published. We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”
Producer Nina Jacobson also tweeted the “cat’s out of the bag,” implying that she’ll return to help spearhead this film adaptation just as she did the original trilogy.
The first Hunger Games movie hit theaters in 2012 and set box office records for opening day and the biggest opening weekend for a non-sequel film, taking many in Hollywood by surprise. Indeed, the film scored a whopping $694.4 million worldwide against a modest budget of just $78 million and turned Jennifer Lawrence into a bona fide movie star. The sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was even more successful, grossing $865 million worldwide (albeit with a bigger budget), but the final two films—which split the third book in Collins’ trilogy in half—backslid a bit with Mockingjay – Part 1 grossing $755.4 million and Mockingjay – Part 2 hitting a franchise low with $653.4 million.
Other studios tried to replicate the Hunger Games franchise’s success, including Lionsgate’s sister studio Summit with the Divergent series, but none hit the same heights and few could even call themselves modest hits. The Hunger Games was a truly unique phenomenon.
Lionsgate has made no secret of its desire to keep this franchise going, and prequel ideas have been teased for years. Given that the first Hunger Games is set during the 74th Hunger Games and this new book takes place 64 years earlier, one surmises its set during the events of the 10th annual Hunger Games. It’d be quite redundant to follow a new hero through another Hunger Games event, so here’s hoping the scope and focus of this new novel is rather different.